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Survivor

EXCLUSIVE: The truth behind this touching moment between Wai and Flick on Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn

“I was really scared.”

By Maddison Leach
It's no secret that Wai struggled with physical challenges throughout her stint on Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn.
But the author thought she had met her match when a mid-season challenge required castaways to swim across a rushing outback river.
"I was really scared," she tells TV WEEK over the phone.
Wai had to get across the river for her tribe to have a chance at victory, but she knew the swim was beyond her abilities.
That's when Flick stepped in and viewers around the country welled up.
Wai has opened up about how the other castaways supported her. (Ten)
"We knew that I wouldn't be able to make it, and straight away [Flick] was like 'you're coming with me'," Wai recalls.
Pro surfer Flick chose to swim Wai the full length of the river under her arm, giving up precious time and energy to do so.
Meanwhile tribemates Shannon and Chelsea shouted their support for Wai from the sidelines.
It was a small moment, but a touching one that speaks to the camaraderie between Wai and her fellow castaways.
"It's great that people are really supportive of each other, even in a situation like Survivor where the whole point is trying to vote each other out," Wai says.
In fact, viewers watched other castaways support Wai time and time again throughout the season. And it wasn't just during challenges.
The emotional support Wai received from fellow castaways – and now fans – meant even more when she started facing cruel bullying from online trolls.
Tweets and Instagram comments called her "weak", a "handicap" to her tribe and some even included vile racial slurs.
"[The trolling] was hard. As a human being you don't like to see stuff like that, but you push through it," Wai says.
She adds that she "never lied about the fact [she] couldn't do things" and knew what she was – and wasn't – capable of going into the show.
But Wai wanted to prove that you could be a "nerdy introvert" and still play the game of Survivor.
"I'm really grateful that I could play as a woman of colour, as an Asian, as an author, a few different things that you typically don't see in the game of Survivor," she says.
"I hope it encourages other people to think a little differently about how Survivor is played."
In the end she made it through 45 gruelling days in the outback to become one of the final five castaways.
It was a feat that surprised even her, Wai confessing: "I was definitely one of those people that did not think I would make it that far."
Wai amazed everyone - herself included - by making it to the final five. (Ten)
But by playing a genuine game and being herself, Wai managed to go farther than she ever thought she could and make plenty of friends along the way.
Many of the tribe bonding moments never made it to air, but Wai recalls the simple joys of sitting at camp playing games with the other castaways and sharing memories of home.
"They don't make it on TV because nobody wants to watch people playing silly word games," she laughs.
As for any dramatic or controversial unaired moments, Wai teases: "What happens on Survivor, stays on Survivor!"

Survivors ready? Get more info on the Brains V Brawn season here

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